Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bishop Iker is Unhappy.

Bishop Iker is very unhappy. Again.
Seems some of us people in his diocese dared to get together to talk about our future in The Episcopal Church. And what’s more, we had the gall to invite one of the leaders of the church to come answer questions for us. Yes, it’s all true. Fort Worth Via Media and Brite Divinity School did invite Bonnie Anderson to come to Fort Worth.
And I confess that, while we did inform Bishop Iker of her visit and invite him to attend two months before the event, we did not ask his permission. Why? Because we didn’t need his permission.
And, I might add, Bishop Iker did not indicate any displeasure over the visit in his note declining the invitation. [See below for copies of the invitation and Bp.Iker's reply.]
Turn out, though, he's really really really really really unhappy about it.
In Bishop Iker writes:"It is a clear effort on her part to recognize and empower a small group of people who dissent from the stated theological positions of this diocese and who claim that they alone are the true 'loyal Episcopalians' here in Fort Worth."
The bishop got part of it right. Bonnie Anderson DID recognize the existence of people in this diocese who disagree with "the stated theological positions of this diocese." She DID give out information that will empower people. I helped arrange all this. I was one of the speakers. So shoot me.
However, the bishop got part of it wrong. At NO time did anyone in that room claim to be the ONLY true "loyal Episcopalians" here in Fort Worth. Fort Worth Via Media has never claimed that.
And indeed, not everyone who was in that room "dissents" from "the stated theological positions of this diocese." Some agree with them, but aren't sure they are ready to leave TEC. Others agree with some of them, but not all, but do not want to leave TEC. Some disagree vehemently with those positions and are SURE they don't want to leave TEC. So? Where in all this have we "violated" the protocols and polity of The Episcopal Church?
I’m surprised he made that mistake. You’d think Bishop Iker would be an expert on violating the polity and protocols of TEC, wouldn’t you?
Indeed, recent actions by our bishop involving just those protocols have raised the anxiety level of people in the diocese to higher levels than usual. People wanted information from more than one source. Radical idea, huh?
But the idea for this event started long before the recent consecrations in Africa and our bishop's latest statement about "The Realignment Moves Forward."
People have been desperate for information for a long time. The response was the event that has so ticked off the bishop. "Episcopalians for the Future," sponsored by Brite Divinity School and Fort Worth Via Media, was held Saturday on the campus of Texas Christian University.
The purpose of the event was to inform people about national canons, especially regarding property, and to give them information from a viewpoint other than the bishop about recent events in our church and in the Communion, something not readily available in this diocese.
It also was designed to empower lay people by telling them of ways to stay informed and to get involved on the parish and diocesan level. We also discussed ways to put people in the various parishes in touch with one another, including setting up a listserve not unlike the HOB/D list so they can share information and ideas.
Again, let me emphasize that Bishop Iker WAS informed of Bonnie's visit to Fort Worth AND invited to the event several weeks prior to yesterday. He declined to attend, saying he had an ordination to do that day. He did not indicate any displeasure at that time.
Suzanne Gill, the diocesan communication director, attended the entire day, taking photos and notes like the good reporter she is.
In spite of the fact that the diocese refused to publicize the event, and despite the effort by some clergy to discourage people from attending, 250 people showed up -- the room was filled to capacity.
This was emphatically NOT a Bash Bishop Iker event, although he WAS inevitably mentioned. I heard no disrespect for him, only disagreement with him. Last I heard, disagreement with one's bishop still is permitted in TEC.
This was an event designed to give information about the national church and the Anglican Communion [pointing out, for instance, that none of the "Instruments of Unity" have any power to force TEC to do anything], about what help might be available to people and parishes who want to remain in The Episcopal Church, about what happens if a bishop attempts to take an entire diocese "out of the church."
Bonnie Anderson was the keynote speaker.
I then talked about the Anglican Communion and gave information about the Windsor Report, the Primates' Communiqué, invitations to Lambeth, etc. My talk will be posted on the Fort Worth Via Media web site later today.
Two lawyers from Houston talked about canon law.
My rector and one of the vestry members at Trinity Episcopal Church talked about ways lay people can get involved.
Then there was a Q&A session with Bonnie Anderson.
The event was completely transparent. It was open to anyone who registered, and was all videotaped. We sent a mailing to every priest in the diocese and attempted to get information to every parish -- a difficult task indeed with no cooperation from the diocese. Members of FWVM worked very hard issuing one-on-one invitations via letter and e-mail to people we know personally in the diocese.
As I said, not everyone in the room disagreed with the bishop -- indeed some of his fans were there -- but the exchanges were all cordial and everyone listened to everyone else politely.
Apparently such a gathering is very threatening to our bishop.
That fact alone should help everyone understand why it was so desperately needed here.
Here's the invitation and the bishop's reply:

On Jul 17, 2007, George Komechak [President of Fort Worth Via Media] wrote:

The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, D.D., SSC
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
2900 Alemeda
Fort Worth, TX 76116

Dear Bishop Iker,

On behalf of Fort Worth Via Media, I am writing to invite you to hear Bonnie Anderson, President of the Episcopal Church House of Deputies, speak at the Dee J. Kelly Alumni and Visitors Center on the TCU campus on Saturday, September 8, 2007.

The program schedule is presently being developed, but we expect the event to start in the morning and continue to early afternoon. Ms. Anderson will be the keynote speaker as well as participate in a question-and-answer session at the end of the event. For now, however, we simply wanted to inform you of her visit to Fort Worth and to extend an early invitation.

We also will send details of Ms. Anderson's visit to Suzanne Gill as soon as arrangements are complete, so that she can inform the entire diocese of this opportunity to hear Ms. Anderson and to participate in a question and answer session with her. .

Yours in Christ,

George Komechak
cc: Canon Charles A. Hough, III, SSC
Ms. Kim Tucker, Asst. to Bonnie Anderson
From: "Bishop Jack L. Iker"
Re: An InvitationDate: Thu, 19 Jul 2007
To: George Komechak
Thanks for the invitation, but I have an ordination that day. +JLI


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I can't begin to imagine what it must be like living your spiritual life as if you had fallen down a rabbit hole.

Yours has always been a voice of reason and truth.

Thanks be to God for your continued witness and ministry. May God continue to grant you strength and courage to continue.

Muthah+ said...

It always amazes me the kind of misinformation that some bishops try to put out when the laity and the clergy are tying to be transparent about conflict. Thanks for keeping the faith out there and above board for the people of Ft. Worth.